BRIAN Barry-Murphy has hailed the potent partnership he has struck up with fellow Irishman Stephen Dawson in the Bury engine room.

The duo compliment each other, with the dynamic box-to-box play of Dawson being the perfect foil for the silky passing play of his more senior team-mate.

As a pairing they have few peers in League Two, and Barry-Murphy has admitted he relishes playing alongside his countryman.

“Without being disrespectful to the players not in the team, I have to say I really enjoy playing with Stephen,” said the 31-year-old.

“It helps when you understand where each other is going to be and each other’s strengths and weaknesses. He is improving every game and adding more assets to his game and, as a partnership, we are still improving.

“Most players think their own position is one of the most important, and I have always been of the opinion that the centre of midfield is a key part of the pitch — even more so away from home when teams launch plenty of attacks from there.

“Myself and Stephen take an awful lot of pride in making sure, at the very least, we give the team an equal share of possession — and hopefully even more.

“Certain teams play slightly different systems, but me and Stephen will back ourselves against most teams in this division, and even in a higher league. If we get on top of the game it gives the team a great platform.”

Barry-Murphy has taken great pride in helping Dawson develop his game since a move from Mansfield last summer, and he believes the 24-year-old is rapidly turning into a complete footballer.

“I do offer Stephen advice, and I’m probably a little bit hard on him at times, but that is because I think he has a lot more to offer,” said Barry-Murphy.

“He has to continue improving but I don’t want to sound like an old man that is on his case all the time. I offer little bits of advice that may benefit him and you can see from his goalscoring exploits over the last couple of months that he has definitely added that to his game.

“Last season his finishing, at times, was quite poor and it was his play in the final third that was letting him down. But he is starting to make runs from midfield which are very difficult to pick up.

“Strikers and midfielders who make runs all the time can be easily picked up but I think he is starting to realise when to make the run at the right time and that is great for his all-round game.”